Dr. Ron Eglash

Comparative Studies 367.02 (call#04417-7)

Fall 1998

Class meetings: 209 Denny, M-W 1:30-3:18. Office Hours: Mon 11:30-12:30, Wed 11:30-12:30, and by appointment, 485 Mendenhall Labs. Contact:, for phone message call 292-2559 (my phone is 292-5365, but I am rarely there except for office hours).

Course Description:

This course introduces students to social studies of science and technology in American culture. We will cover case studies of public controversies involving science and technology, such as nuclear power and AIDS, and examine how social groups are able to "appropriate" technology to empower their own communities. We will also look at the indigenous technologies that were developed by traditional Native American societies, at the culture that forms inside professional scientific communities, and at virtual communities on the internet. This wide variety of perspectives will enable students to bring the critical traditions of humanities and social studies to bear on the theory, practice and impact of contemporary science and technology


Evaluation will be based on the midterm paper (45%), the final exam (45%), and class participation (10%). You are required to bring the reading to class so that we can discuss the texts in detail.

Required Texts:

Course Schedule:

I. Introduction to Science and Technology Studies

9/23 -- Lecture: intro to social studies of science (Merton, Popper).

II. Public understanding of science and technology

9/28 -- Toumey ch 1, 2, 3

9/30 -- Toumey ch 4,5

10/5 -- Toumey ch 6,7

10/7 -- Toumey ch 8,9,10. Midterm paper first draft due.

III. Appropriating Technology

10/12 --*Paula Treichler, "How to have a theory in an epidemic." video: "Doctors, Liars and Women." video: "Seize control of the FDA."

10/14 -- *Giovanna DiChiro, "Local actions, global visions: remaking environmental expertise." *DeeDee Hallack, "Watch Out, Dick Tracy! Popular Video in the Wake of the Exxon Valdez."

III. Science and Technology in Native American Societies

10/21 -- Video: "Nations Of The Northeast." Handout: Donald Grinde, "Iroquois Political Theory and the Roots of American Democracy."

10/26 -- *Hermina Poatgieter, Indian Legacy ch 5,9. *Winona LaDuke: "Voices from White Earth." Midterm paper final draft due.

10/28 -- *Bruce Smith and M.L. Cornette, "Electronic smoke signals: native american radio in the US." *Ron Eglash and Turtle Heart, "Coding, complexity and computation in Native American knowledge systems."

IV. The mythology of biological determinism

11/2 -- Hubbard ch 4. Video: GATTACA

11/4 -- Hubbard ch 1,2

11/9 -- Hubbard ch 3,5,6

11/11 -- Holiday -- No class

11/16 -- Hubbard ch 7,8,9

11/18 -- Hubbard ch 10,11,12

V. Cyberculture

11/23 -- Turkle ch 1,2

11/25 -- Turkle ch 3,4,5

11/30 --Turkle ch 6,7,8

12/2 --Turkle ch 9,10

Final exam: see master schedule